Volunteer Position Description

Our volunteers are the heart of our organization.

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region provides a free and confidential telephone service offering suicide prevention, crisis intervention, psychological stabilization, emotional support, information and referrals to individuals of all ages. We support people in varying degrees of distress or crisis who are experiencing a wide range of problems including, but not limited to: suicidal ideations, abuse or violence, mental or physical illness, bereavement, addictions, sexuality and interpersonal problems, youth-related issues, unemployment and more.

Our volunteer Crisis Line Responders are trained in active listening techniques, communication skills, crisis intervention and suicide prevention/intervention techniques. They help clients assess their own situations, establish goals and priorities, and link callers to pertinent resources in the community, if needed.



The Distress Centre’s award-winning volunteer training course (compulsory for all volunteers before answering calls) allows our volunteers to:

  • Provide callers who are in crisis or distress with immediate emotional support, in response to urgent needs
  • Work collaboratively with callers
  • Communicate genuine concern for each caller
  • Be accepting of the feelings the caller may have and supportive of their decisions
  • Be encouraging and empowering with callers
  • Share knowledge of community resources to allow the caller to be aware of all possible options
  • Follow direction of professional staff in reference to callers who require a specific management program


Must Knows

At all times, our volunteer Crisis Line Responders are required to adhere to the policies of the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, particularly where confidentiality is concerned. Our policy states, in part "The service provided at the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region is offered on the understanding that callers' rights to confidentiality will be respected by all volunteers and staff".

Volunteer Crisis Line Responders agree that they will:

  • Respond to callers using a non-judgmental, unbiased & non-directive approach
  • Be responsible for the shifts (4 hours in length) assigned to them (failure to report for shifts may result in dismissal)
  • Attend in-service educational training when offered
  • Never breach the confidentiality of a call or disclose the location of the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region to anyone